Category Archives: Tutorials

Incremental WordPress Backups using Duply (Duplicity)

This post outlines how to create encrypted incremental backups for WordPress using duplicity and duply. The general method, as you will see is pretty generic, and I’ve been using it successfully to backup also Django sites and MediaWiki installations. You can use this method to make secure backups to almost any kind of service imagineable: ftp, sftp, Amazon S3, rsync, Rackspace Open Cloud, Ubuntu One, Google Drive and whatever else you can think about (as long as the duplicity folks implemented :-)). If you prefer a simpler solution, and don’t care about incremental or encrypted backups, see my Improved FTP Backup for WordPress or my WordPress Backup to Amazon S3 Script.
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Using std::chrono::high_resolution_clock Example

5 years a go I’ve showed how to use clock_gettime to do basic high_resolution profiling. The approach there is very useful, but unfortunately, not cross-platform. It works only on POSIX compliant systems (especially not windows).

Luckily, the not-so-new C++11 provides, among other things, interface to high-precision clocks in a portable way. It’s still not a perfect solution, as it only provides wall-time (clock_gettime can give per process and per thread actual CPU time as well). However, it’s still nice.

#include <iostream>
#include <chrono>
using namespace std;
 
int main()
{
	cout << chrono::high_resolution_clock::period::den << endl;
	auto start_time = chrono::high_resolution_clock::now();
	int temp;
	for (int i = 0; i< 242000000; i++)
		temp+=temp;
	auto end_time = chrono::high_resolution_clock::now();
	cout << chrono::duration_cast<chrono::seconds>(end_time - start_time).count() << ":";
	cout << chrono::duration_cast<chrono::microseconds>(end_time - start_time).count() << ":";
	return 0;
}

I’ll explain a bit the code. chrono is the new header files that provides various time and clock related functionality of the new standard library. high_resolution_clock should be, according to the standard, the clock with the highest precision.

cout << chrono::high_resolution_clock::period::den << endl;

Note, that there isn’t a guarantee how many the ticks per seconds it has, only that it’s the highest available. Hence, the first thing we do is to get the precision, by printing how many many times a second the clock ticks. My system provides 1000000 ticks per second, which is a microsecond precision.

Getting the current time using now() is self-explanatory. The possibly tricky part is

cout << chrono::duration_cast<chrono::seconds>(end_time - start_time).count() << ":";

(end_time - start_time) is a duration (newly defined type) and the count() method returns the number of ticks it represents. As we said, the number of ticks per second may change from system to system, so in order to get the number of seconds we use duration_cast. The same goes in the next line for microseconds.

The standard also provides other useful time units such as nanoseconds, milliseconds, minutes and even hours.

Sending Desktop Notification from Cron

Usually when one wants to keep track of one’s cron jobs, one tells the cron daemon to email the output of the commands. While this is probably the best solution for servers, on desktop machines is problematic. Many ISPs block outgoing traffic on port 25 (SMTP), and if you want to send the emails via external SMTP server (such as GMail) this requires you to store authentication details in plain text. A better solution for the desktop would be to harness the desktop notifications available in Ubuntu.

There is a useful tool called notify-send which is able to send desktop notifications directly from the command line. However, there are few caveats:

  • notify-send expects its input on the command line, it can’t read from stdin.
  • If you run from cron you must tell it which display to use.

The first issue can be worked around by using cat to pick up the input. The second issue is handled by adding a DISPLAY environment variable to the crontab. So your crontab will look something like this:

DISPLAY=:0
10 1 * * sun some_cool_command | notify-send "Backup Documents" "$(cat)"

The first argument to notify-send is the title of the notification. The second is the actual text to appear in it, in our case it’s whatever comes in the stdin. If you want to store the output in a log file as well as displaying it in a desktop notification, you can use tee, which basically saves its input to a given file and also pipes it again to stdout.

DISPLAY=:0
10 1 * * sun some_cool_command | tee -a ~/some_log.log | notify-send "Backup Documents" "$(cat)"

Creating a Deb for an Updated Version

Say you’ve an existing package like gitg and you want to use the new version of gitg or even apply your own patches. You could directly make install but you will probably regret it as soon as you’ll want to upgrade/uninstall, and you want to create a better package than the one created by checkinstall. Apperantly, creating a deb package for a new version of already packaged deb isn’t complicated.

Getting Started

Start by pulling the sources for the already available package. I’ll by using gitg as an example throughout this tutorial.

$ apt-get source gitg

This will create a folder according to the version of the package, something like gitg-0.2.4. Extract the new version besides it and cd into its directory. The next step is to copy the debian/ directory from the old source package the code you’ve just extracted.

$ cp -R ../gitg-0.2.4/debian/ .

Dependencies

There are some dependencies you’ll need:

$ sudo apt-get install devscripts
$ sudo apt-get install dpkg-dev

You’ll probably want to do:

$ sudo apt-get build-dep gitg

in order to make sure you’ve all the relevant build time dependencies.

Update debian/ Files

The next step is to update the files under the debian/ sub-directory.

$ DEBEMAIL="Guy Rutenberg <myemail@domain.com>" debchange --nmu

This will update the debian/changelog and set the new version. --nmu will create a new “non maintainer upload” version, meaning if the current version was 0.2.4-0ubuntu1, it will change it to 0.2.4-0ubuntu1.1. This will make sure that there won’t be any collision between your package and an official one. If you update to a new upstream version. It might be more suitable to use something like this:

$ debchange --newversion 0.2.5+20111211.git.20391c4

If necessary, update the Build-Depends and Depends sections of debian/control.

Building the Package

If your building a package directly from version control and not part of an official release, you may need to run

$ ./autogen

at this point.

Now to the actual building:

$ debuild -us -uc -i -I -b

-us -uc tells the script not to sign the .dsc and .changes files accordingly. -i and -I makes the script ignore common version control files. -b tells debuild to only create binary packages. You can also pass -j followed by the number of simultaneous jobs you wish to allow (e.g. -j3, like in make) which an significantly speed things up.

Installing the Package

The package will reside in the parent directory, for example:

../gitg_0.2.5+20111211.git.20391c4_amd64.deb

At this point you’re basically done. If you want to install the package you can use

sudo debi

while you’re still inside the build directory.

Creating Source Packages

If you want to go the extra mile and create source packages, it will make things easier for others to build their own packages based on yours.

You’ll need to create a an “orig” tarball

../gitg_0.2.5+20111211.git.20391c4.orig.tar.bz2

(note the underscore between the package-name and the version). The “orig” tarball should contain the original source-code without the debian specific patches.

Now you can run the debuild command like before but without the -b flag.
This will create the following files:

../gitg_0.2.5+20111211.git.20391c4.debian.tar.gz
../gitg_0.2.5+20111211.git.20391c4.dsc

References

  • UpdatingADeb
  • Man pages for debuild, dpgk-genchanges, dpgk-buildpackage.

Capturing Video and Converting to H.264 using ffmpeg

8-millimeter video tapes seem to slowly fade to oblivion. In order to save old family videos recorded in this format, I’ve decided to digitize them.

After a quick try with vlc, I’ve understood that it wasn’t the right tool for the task. It crashed with a cryptic error message every time I’ve tried to encode H.264 video, and it seemed that it best suited for real time encoding. Doing real time encoding, is sub-optimal as I can’t reach high quality encoding is a reasonable bit rate.

So I looked for another tool and recalled ffmpeg. While ffmpeg provided everything I looked: high quality video encoding using H.264 and stability, it wasn’t an easy start. ffmpeg’s defaults are notoriously ill-chosen. After hours of going through man pages, I’ve managed to capture and convert video tapes into high quality (encoded) digital video.

Basically the process involved capturing the raw video into a temporary file and then preform a two-pass encoding using H.264.
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phpMyAdmin + Lighttpd in Gentoo

Usually installing software in Gentoo is a piece of cake. Just emerge what you want and (with the right USE flags) and everything will be ready for you. However, as today I’ve found out today, installing phpMyAdmin with Lighttpd isn’t trivial as it should be.

In this post I’ll try to walk you through the necessary steps to install phpMyAdmin with Lighttpd in Gentoo.
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Setting Up OmniComplete (Autocompletion) for wxWidgets in Vim

I use Vim as my main IDE for C/C++ related development (as well as for almost all other development). If you use (or thinking about using) vim as as an IDE, you better get some good autocompletion functionality. This kind of autocompletion is provided by the OmniComplete, which is available since Vim 7.0. Just having the OmniComplete is a nice thing, but it’s much more helpful if configured properly to work with the libraries you use, such as wxWidgets. In this post I will show you how to get working the OmniComplete for wxWidgets, however, the procedure I will show can be easily adapted to almost all libraries.
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Creating Local SVN Repository (Home Repository)

In this tutorial I will explain how to create a local Subversion (SVN) repository, intended for a single user. I assume that you already know the benefits of keeping track of old revision of projects or important documents such as a resume or a thesis you have been writing. Subversion offers you a very convenient yet strong method to do so, and the easiest way to do so with Subversion (SVN) is to create a local, home, repository intended for a single user – you.
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